[Hpn] Anti-Poverty Activists March in Philadelphia

I CAN! America icanamerica@email.msn.com
Tue, 01 Aug 2000 05:58:40 -0500


----- Original Message - "Michael Givel" <mgivel@earthlink.net>To: <civic-values@civic.net>



An interesting article with one major inaccuracy however. The Seattle
protests were largely nonviolent until the police went bezerk with
clubs, pepper spray, tear gas, and their "on protest" zone. Why the
mainstream media is now rewriting history is an interesting question in
and of itself.....


Monday - 22:53 07/31/2000, EST

Anti-Poverty Activists March in Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (Reuters) - Thousands of protesters, led by people in
wheelchairs, marched on the
Republican National Convention on Monday to demand economic rights for
people oppressed by poverty and homelessness.

The opening of the four-day convention that will nominate Texas Gov.
George W. Bush for president also brought the first of what are expected
to be days of arrests, when people blocked a downtown intersection to
put on a political skit attacking U.S. military involvement in Latin
America.

All told, 15 people were arrested in separate incidents over the course
of the day.
Amid fears of violent confrontations heightened by protests against the
World Trade Organization in Seattle last year and the World Bank in
Washington last April, the day's main event was a two-hour ``economic
human rights'' march through sweltering heat by a crowd police estimated
at 3,000 to 4,000.

The march, organized without a permit, came off peacefully, ending with
a rally opposite the convention venue on the outskirts of the fifth
largest U.S. city.

``We are marching today to show the face of poor people to the delegates
of the Republican convention,'' said the Rev. Marcus Pomeroy, a local
Baptist minister who led an early morning prayer service at a tent city
called  ``Bushville,'' where a core group of 200 activists began the
day.

Dozens of activist groups have converged on Philadelphia to rail against
corporate America and its influence on the U.S. political system in
front of 15,000 journalists who are covering the Republican convention.
Days of civil disobedience protests aimed at disrupting the convention
were due to get under way in earnest on Tuesday.

Monday's demonstrators represented a wide range of causes from AIDS
research to organized labor, students against sweatshops and people with
disabilities.

But all agreed to march in solidarity in support of an estimated 35
million poor Americans, many of whom the protesters said have been moved
off public assistance and into the ranks of the working poor by changes
in welfare laws. Some protesters underscored the point by wearing gray
T-shirts emblazoned with the message: ``Disappeared in America Hiding
the Poor.''

A largely young, white crowd walked the 3 1/2 miles (6 km) down a main
boulevard from City Hall to the convention site through the July heat,
chanting, ``Time to tax Bill Gates'' and ''Hey hey, ho ho, poverty has
got to go.''

Republican delegates watched quietly from hotels and meeting halls along
the route, while members of the public cheered.

``They got all these (Republicans) to come to town to party, and
everybody's broke,'' said Clemens Jones, a construction worker at a
nearby work site.

POLICE ACCOMMODATE MARCHERS

Organized by a local group of homeless advocates called the Kensington
Welfare Rights Union (KWRU), the march became a source of tension in
recent days after city authorities refused to grant a permit.

Police chose to accommodate the marchers. Police Commissioner John
Timoney said later he was relieved there had been no violence, but still
complained about the march's effect on traffic. ``I'm not so happy about
that, but I can live with it,'' he said.

Two men were arrested for trying to hop a fence at the march's
concluding rally. Legal advisers to protest organizers said four others
were taken into custody at the Pennsylvania Convention Center in
downtown Philadelphia later in the afternoon. But no details of the
circumstances were available.

But the first arrests came during Monday morning rush hour when nine
people from a group opposed to the Army's School of the Americas in Fort
Benning, Georgia, blocked an intersection. By the evening, all nine were
still behind bars at the city police administration building.

``Each of them were willing to go to jail to expose to the Republicans
what they see as an injustice and call attention to a combat school for
thugs from Latin America that is financed by the U.S. taxpayer to the
tune of $20 million a year,'' said the Rev. Roy Bourgeois, a Roman
Catholic priest with the School of the Americas Watch.

In the group's skit, a demonstrator made up to look like Uncle Sam
ordered the ``execution'' of four people in  ponchos intended to
represent landless peasants in Mexico, Guatemala, Colombia and El
Salvador.

Actors posing as soldiers then dragged the bodies splattered with red
paint to a ``burial ground'' at the center of the intersection as police
converged on the scene. Police gave the protesters more than half an
hour to leave,then took them into custody and charged them with
obstructing traffic.

Earlier, the AIDS activist group ACT UP Philadelphia hijacked a roadside
billboard to demand cheap generic drugs for impoverished AIDS sufferers
in Africa.